How to Properly Load Your Trailer

Tuesday November 9, 2021

There is a lot to think about when loading a trailer. No matter what is being loaded, it’s important to be conscious about weight, payload capacity, towing vehicle restrictions, tongue weight and more. Before beginning loading, there are a few terms you should know:

GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Ratio)

The GVWR should be located on the VIN label of your trailer. This number is the maximum weight allowed for both your trailer and cargo.

GAWR (Gross Axle Weight Ratio)

The GAWR is the maximum distributed weight that can be supported by each axle of the trailer. On the GAWR FR is front axle and RR is rear axle. This is important because sometimes items will need to be loaded that may not exceed the GVWR but still exceed the GAWR.

Payload Capacity

This is the total weight capacity of your trailer. To find this number, subtract the weight of the trailer from the GVWR and multiply by 80% (.80). This is the maximum payload of the trailer.

Tongue Weight

This is the amount of the trailer’s weight that is transferred to your tow vehicle through the trailer tongue. Tongue weight can be calculated at most truck stops or facilities.

Hitch Clearance

The hitch on your towing vehicle should be at least 11 inches above the ground to avoid hazards like bumps, curbs and train tracks.

How to Load

Now that you’ve been familiarized with common trailer terminology, you can begin to load your trailer. For enclosed trailers, 60% of the cargo weight should be in the front half of the trailer, with the single heaviest item at the front. Lighter items should be loaded towards the rear and top of the interior. Cargo should be packed tightly or tied down to prevent shifting during transportation.

Knowing the best way to load your trailer is not only important for protecting your cargo, but also avoiding trailer sway and other issues that could create unsafe towing situations. As always, consult your owner’s manual for loading instructions specific to your trailer.